When Wade Phillips brought linebacker Keith Brooking in from Atlanta after 11 seasons in the league, he knew exactly what he was getting. From a strictly football-centric standpoint, of course, he was getting an above-average inside linebacker with a motor that belies his age and tackling ability to spare.
In this regard, Brooking has excelled in Dallas. His 106 tackles put him second on the team, just behind partner in crime Bradie James (108), and narrowly on the outside of the top ten in the conference.
But his abilities on the field were only part of the equation that resulted in Brooking suiting up in blue and silver this season. What Brooking had--what Phillips needed--was leadership skills. Brooking, quiet at first as he earned the respect of his new teammates, has assumed the role with Dallas that endeared him to fans in Atlanta for 11 seasons--as the unquestioned emotional leader.
It was Brooking who was seen in the middle of a pregame huddle, rallying the troops on Sunday; and it will be Brooking ensuring that Dallas doesn't lose the run of themselves going into a decisive NFC East showdown with Philadelphia next weekend.
"It's a big win for us, obviously getting into the playoffs, getting into the tournament was huge," Brooking said. "[But] it wasn't a goal that we set out for at the beginning of the year. Our goals are much bigger than that.
"We set our self up, at this point, to do some really good things, to accomplish a lot of the goals we had set forth next week...We've got a lot of work to do."